The Role of the SRA in our Rehabilitation

1. Monthly food ration – daal, atta, sugar, rice…
2. Bedding
3. Utensils
4. Clothes
5. Medicines
6. School books (exams have begun)
7. Cash and jewellery

This is a basic list of the belongings of the 19 families of Ganesh Krupa Society whose front doors were wrenched off their hinges, old people and children thrown out on 20th January, 2011. The people from the Encroachment Vibhaag of Slum Rehabilitation Authority, with “protection” from the police, took away their belongings, and locked these into rooms in the transit camp. They could have just put these belongings out on the road. But they had a reason to lock these up. We’ve found out why, in the last two days.

The families, with Mr. Vivek Pandit along for moral support, were asked by the Deputy Collector, Rokade, to come to his office in the MHADA building on 28th January at 11:30am. When they reached there he said that his department needed police “protection” to take the families to the transit camps and release their belongings. Protection from the women of Ganesh Krupa Society? Perhaps we should feel proud that they find us – unarmed, in our sarees – so threatening!

The police “protection” would come at 2pm. So we waited at 2pm. But then we were told that the “protectors” were having lunch.

At 3:30pm, we were told to give a letter to the builder requesting him to return our things. Why? The builder did not confiscate our things. The SRA did. Or does the SRA act only on the bidding of the builder?

We took a procession to Rokade’s office. They said he wasn’t in to meet us.

We took a procession then, to Nirmal Deshmukh, the Collector’s office. He promised to speak to Rokade and told us to meet Rokade at 11am today, January 29th. We arrived there. We asked him under whose orders the SRA confiscated people’s belongings and locked them in the transit camp rooms. The High Court ordered “eviction”, not demolition and theft!

Rokade then said, go take the keys of the transit camp rooms from the builder. Open and retrieve your things. But if we take the keys of the transit camp rooms from the builder, it will be said that we accept the transit accommodation.

We are now in the DCP’s office to file a First Information Report against SRA and the builder. We want an investigation into who took our belongings and where they are.

We’ve worn ourselves out going from one office to the next, facing the indifference and corruption of the authorities. The children have exams. How are they to study without their books and all this going on?

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